On January 25 of this year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an oped written by a woman using the name Olive Allen. The oped was entitled "In defense of Jason McClean's artistic vision," and it was a response to a friend of mine who was calling for boycotts of McLean's Twin Cities venues. Olive Allen turned out to be Kay L. Hansen. Hansen admitted to only having spoken with McLean a few times, but decided she adored him and his businesses so much, she needed us to ignore the trauma Jason McLean perpetrated, and focus on his art.
A number of women have come forward and accused Jason McLean of raping them while they were students at the Children's Theatre Conservatory School in Minneapolis. Since I am not an attorney, and I know these women, I am not going to use the word alleged in this article. I believe that Jason McLean raped my friends when they were teenagers. I believe this because while I was not a victim of McLean's, I was the victim of another teacher, and CTC was an institution that actively enabled child rapists.
After it all hit the fan in 1984, students and parents were effectively told to ignore the trauma, and focus on the art. Focus on how famous and loved Children's Theatre was. Focus on the money CTC received from donors, grants, and the state. Focus on the plays, and the set design, and the cover story in Smithsonian magazine, and the gushing comments from luminaries like Joel Grey. We were told exactly the same thing Kay. L. Hansen told us in her oped.
She starts her piece with:
The Loring Pasta Bar and Varsity Theater — just like the old Loring Bar and Cafe and Kitty Cat Klub — are bigger than Jason McLean. Whatever you may think of the man (who, let’s not forget, is still only accused in lawsuits stemming from the Children’s Theatre Company sex abuse scandal of the 1980s), let’s not undervalue the profound impact he’s had on Minneapolis art and design culture and “throw the baby out with the bath water” by boycotting his venues.We were told Children's Theatre was bigger than John Clark Donahue, and Steven Adamczak, and Don Fogelberg. We were told that by telling the truth, we would be helping to destroy an important institution. We were shamed, bullied, threatened, and silenced. Ignore the trauma, focus on the art.
Ms. Hansen spends eight paragraphs attempting to prove her point: Raping young girls isn't as important as making Dinkytown hip. Then she finishes with this:
So what I would suggest is this: Follow the story, sure, but do not rush to tear down these iconic establishments — these poems to Minneapolis — like some ISIL mob destroying tombs in Palmyra. Visionaries with talent (flawed, tempestuous, rebellious) are not born every day, and their work is not easily replaced.Follow the story, sure. How flippant. Poems of Minneapolis. Uh huh. Did you notice how Ms. Hansen compares asking for boycotts to sacred tombs being destroyed by a terrorist group? To Ms. Hansen, we are terrorists, trying to destroy her precious art. We are survivors, Ms. Hansen, who have known hell on earth. We were molested, raped, abused, by people we trusted. We were brainwashed into thinking that was okay, because we were special, because it was normal. We were told to ignore the trauma, focus on the art.
Kay L. Hansen's oped angered me so much, I joined the civil suit against Children's Theatre. No one is ever going to tell me my trauma is less important than anyone's art, or club, or restaurant, or venue, or theater. Not again.